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Senators oppose 2nd tranche of fuel excise tax

Several senators have expressed opposition to the government economic team's recall of its earlier commitment of suspending the second tranche of excise tax on petroleum. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA—Several senators have expressed opposition to the government economic team's recall of its earlier commitment of suspending the second tranche of excise tax on petroleum.

The administration's economic managers on Thursday said they would recommend the implementation of the second round of fuel excise taxes after world oil prices fell from $ 80 per barrel in October.

The recall of such commitment to aid the people from the effects of excise tax proves the administration’s lack of sincerity in aiding the poor, Sen. Bam Aquino said Friday.

“Itong pag-u-urong sulong ng Department of Finance, parang pinaasa lang 'yung taumbayan na ito pong buwis na padating ng Enero mawawala, 'yun pala itutuloy din lang,” Aquino said.

Aquino insisted that the decrease in the prices of fuel in recent weeks has yet to affect basic commodities, making the planned suspension unreasonable.

The P2 excise tax on oil per liter this year, coupled by another P2 tariff per liter next year, would mean a typical jeepney driver and his family’s failure to eat their breakfast daily, Aquino said.

Sen. Sonny Angara echoed Aquino's sentiment and said that international oil price reductions are yet to be felt by Filipinos.

"Hindi po dito dapat nagtatapos ang rollback. Dapat sundan din ito ng rollback sa presyo ng mga pangunahing bilihin. Dapat lang na gumalaw rin pababa ang mga presyo ng bilihin sabay sa paggalaw ng presyo ng petrolyo," he said.

Sen. Koko Pimentel, meanwhile, urged the government's economic team to "make up their minds."

"Inflation is a dangerous phenomenon, which should be slain on sight when it rears its ugly head. Hence our [economic] managers should make up their minds on whether to fight inflation or pursue revenues. I suggest we fight inflation now," he said.

In a statement Saturday, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian urged President Rodrigo Duterte to push through with the suspension of the second tranche of excise tax on fuel.

"Nakakatuwa na sunud-sunod ang pagbaba ng presyo ng langis pero kailangan din nating tandaan na hindi pa rin bumababa ang pamasahe at food prices sa levels before TRAIN was implemented. They remain elevated by an average of 50 percent kaya patuloy pa ring nahihirapan ang publiko," he said.

"Moreover, suspending the excise tax on fuels would still give relief to micro, small, and medium enterprises that borrowed money because of the fast inflation this year to pay off their debts."

Gatchalian added that the economic managers should have "have compelling reasons as to why they had a change of heart. These reasons must be explained in detail." –Report from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

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